Kobe
By Michael Wa [CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Kobe Bryant Dropped From Film Festival Jury Over 2003 Rape Allegation

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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Former Los Angeles Lakers star turned filmmaker Kobe Bryant has been dropped from the jury of a film festival after public pressure called for his removal over rape allegations leveled against Bryant in 2003.

Kobe was scheduled to be on the jury for the Animation Is Film Festival, which takes place in Los Angeles this weekend.

According to Yahoo News, the petition, which was started by Woman and Allies on Change.org, said that “light of the #MeToo movement, there has been little to no recourse for Kobe Bryant’s actions of sexual assault.”

The petition called on GKIDS, the independent film distributor that produces the event, as well as key sponsors such as Variety, to revoke Kobe’s invitation.

On Wednesday, event organizers acceded to the demands of petitioners and announced that they had decided to “drop Bryant to keep its focus on films,” according to Yahoo.

Bryant released a statement on Wednesday as well, noting that he was disappointed by the decision but he did not address the petition directly.

“This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry,” Bryant said. “I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”

Bryant joined the Lakers in 1996 at the age of 17 and retired from professional play in 2016. In 2003, he was arrested in Colorado in connection with a sexual assault complaint filed by a 19-year-old hotel employee who alleged that Bryant sexually assaulted her in his hotel room.

However, the charges were later dropped after Bryant’s accuser declined to testify at trial. Bryant issued a public apology to the woman which was read in court: “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”

The alleged victim in the assault later sued Bryant over the incident and the case was settled before coming to trial, with the terms of the agreement not made public.

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